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Top 3 Trends in Colored LED Applications

April 22, 2014

Developments in tinted illumination.

Whether your organization uses them for wayfinding or special effects, colored LEDs can make a big impact at theaters, retail establishments, and other occasions where a splash of color is needed.

“Colored lights are very effective in creating more drama or entertainment,” explains Gerard Harbers, CTO of Xicato, a solid state lighting company. “We believe it’s important to use color for branding.”

Like their white counterparts, colored LEDs have been the subject of ongoing research in efficiency and efficacy. Three trends in particular are surfacing, according to Harbers and Lutron vice president Pekka Hakkarainen:

1) Increased efficiency: Ongoing design research has led to LEDs that deliver more lumens per watt, both white and colored. “The biggest trend is that LEDs have become much more efficient,” Harbers explains. “They can reach 100 lumens per watt now. In the past, many colored LEDs were very inefficient, sometimes more so than white lights.”

The lumens per watt provided by colored LEDs tend to vary by color. For example, a quick look at the Philips LumiLEDs catalog reveals efficacies from 16 lumens per watt (one type of blue diode) to 176 (lime green) at 700 mA.

2) Tunable: The ability to change lighting as needed is increasingly valuable, especially for spaces that change frequently, such as retail environments where different products could be highlighted. “Lamp companies have started producing color-tunable lamps,” explains Hakkarainen. “You have an app on your device that’s connected wirelessly to the lamp, and the app allows you to play around with the color. It’s not something you’d provide with a wall switch because you need to have a more complex palette in front of you to choose from. You could also configure that lamp to provide white light in different color temperatures.”

3) Holistic view: “The theme in the industry that we’re shifting to is systems thinking rather than component thinking,” says Hakkarainen. “The biggest gains will be made from looking at building energy efficiency with a system view, not by looking at individual components.”

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